Dining at a short-staffed restaurant can cause frustrations for both diners and servers. Some patrons leave to find other food options if waitstaff can’t keep up with demand. But in this story, kindness took over when customers stepped up and lifted the burden on workers.

After leaving a concert, Sylvia Arrendondo and her mother, Idalia Merkel, wanted to find somewhere to eat. Since it was already after 11 PM, they thought most places would have closed for the night, except for IHOP. When they drove into the parking lot, it surprised them that the restaurant wasn’t open due to staffing shortages.

So, they tried the next place they thought of, a Denny’s just down the road. Only one side of the dining area remained open when they went inside. Customers occupied just a few tables, but many others waited for someone to seat them.

A Volunteer Host and Hostess Greeted Guests at the Door

A man they later learned was Lynn Roberts approached the two women, saying he hoped they weren’t in a rush. He explained that only one waitress and cook operated the short-staffed Denny’s. To their surprise, the man mentioned that his wife Amy had started seating people since she used to work at Denny’s and knew their systems.

Sylvia explained the situation in a Facebook post, noting that other customers also pitched in to help.

“We are looking at each other and his wife comes to us and asks how many and seats us. She asked what we wanted to drink and brings it to us. Another lady, who clearly did not work there, comes to take our order. She assures us she has no clue what she’s doing, she was just trying to help. She goes on to tell us there is really only one waitress and one cook. The waitress attempted to call her manager several times and no response. This little waitress was in tears!” the post read.

The chef also broke down occasionally, but the workers tried their best to comfort each other.


The Two Women Showed Kindness and Volunteered to Help the Short-Staffed Denny’s

The situation at the short-staffed restaurant prompted the two women to jump into action. They immediately headed toward the kitchen to assist the waitress and chef, who looked college-aged. Idalia offered to help cook food while Sylvia began serving customers. Their act of kindness also encouraged other patrons to help run the establishment.

One couple started bussing and cleaning tables while another man worked the dishwashing station. Everyone seemed to know what to do and never complained about the service. They only wanted to ensure the short-staffed restaurant could keep serving customers.

“Could we have frowned upon this establishment and walked away angry, like so many others? Absolutely! All we knew was this sweet young lady and young man showed up to earn a paycheck, and we were all determined to not let them sink!” Sylvia continued in the post.

She proudly explained that she had never experienced such a “beautiful act of American unity” before. A community came together for one purpose: to serve each other and ensure no one left the restaurant hungry.

The short-staffed restaurant quickly transformed into a bustling diner, and the mood shifted along with the environment. Thanks to the kindness of strangers who helped save the day, the stressful atmosphere became lighthearted and fun. Of course, the orders didn’t always come out perfectly, but no one seemed to mind. They just felt grateful to have food on their plate.

Sylvia jokingly said, “No one had the audacity to argue with us! And the best part, we couldn’t get fired!”

The two kindhearted women helped the short-staffed restaurant into the early morning. Their “shift” ended at 3 AM when they finally convinced everyone to go home for the night.

The Unexpected Experience Moved Them to Tears

Even though they didn’t get to eat dinner, they didn’t feel hungry anymore. The women just felt grateful to have shown up when they did to offer their support.

“We sat down to take a breather and my moms eyes filled with tears, and so did mine shortly after. It was at this moment it hit us! We take so many things for granted. Here these two young adults were just trying to do their job, and were failed by many people. Our hearts hurt for them,” Sylvia’s post continued.

She also noted how the resilience and courage of the two workers deeply moved her. Sylvia and her mother felt honored to help the short-staffed restaurant in its time of need. At the end of the shift, everyone expressed gratitude for participating in such a beautiful display of humanity.

“Once it was all said and done, strangers were hugging strangers and thanking each other for coming together and for their helping hand. It literally took a village. It was so heartwarming to see others pitch in to help and Do The Right Thing!!” Sylvia said.

Of course, it would have been easy for the two women to leave the short-staffed Denny’s and find somewhere else to eat. Instead of complaining about the service or getting angry, though, they decided to help. They couldn’t leave the restaurant in such disarray, especially when the workers felt overwhelmed.

Many restaurants have recently cut their hours due to rowdy customers and employee shortages. The pandemic, supply chain issues, and economic disruptions have taken a toll on the food service industry. However, this heartwarming story reminds us that we can still count on each other to get through hard times.


Final Thoughts on a Community Showing Kindness by Helping a Short-Staffed Restaurant

When most people see long lines at a restaurant, they turn around and pick somewhere else to eat. However, two women who entered a short-staffed Denny’s one night couldn’t bring themselves to leave. They felt called to help the two college-aged workers run the restaurant, so they immediately headed for the kitchen.

One started cooking food while the other served tables, doing whatever they could to help. Other customers waiting for a host to seat them pitched in as well. This incredible act of kindness proves the importance of community, as we’re stronger when we work together.